Snow Clearing of Mississauga's Cycling Infrastructure

January 2018:  It has been a snowy winter so far and cyclists (including MCAC citizen members) have been reporting difficulty getting around; not because of the cold, but because snow clearing of cycling infrastructure has been incomplete, and unpredictable as well because comprehensive standards for this have not been published by the City.  It is difficult to plan any trip by bicycle under these conditions.

There is concern about bike lanes being treated as shoulders and blocked with snow or slushy debris pushed off the car lanes, per photos received from riders.  Winter Road Salting (see below) is also a concern.

Photo at left:  South Millway showing blocked bike lane used for snow storage (January 10, 2018).  Click image to enlarge.

Snow clearing is not just a convenience issue but a safety issue and MCAC is encouraging explicit standards for clearing and maintaining various forms of cycling infrastructure during the winter months.

CURRENT STANDARD:  City staff from the Transportation & Works Dept. have provided the following statement regarding the current standard, which requires greater clarity and will also be reviewed during the Cycling Master Plan Update process (square brackets are MCAC's):

"On-road bicycle lanes, as part of the road right of way, [may] receive the same level of service as the rest of the road.  Multi-use trails within the road right of way are generally treated as priority sidewalks and are shown as such in the City’s winter maintenance priority sidewalk maps."

NOTE:  Plowing in City Parks (pathways, trails, parking lots) varies.  Responsibility for these service areas comes under the Community Services Dept.

MCAC MEETING (January 9, 2018):  MCAC asked staff about existing STANDARDS for clearing and maintaining cycling infrastructure during the winter months since these are not published explicitly on the City's Mississauga Snow website and service is not extended to all connecting parts of the cycling network, including some Multi-Use Trails.  It was noted that when a trail crosses a road, windrows on the intersecting road and sidewalk are not always removed.

UPDATE: ** Regular snow-clearing has now begun on the key east-west Burnhamthorpe Trail.**

GENERAL COMMITTEE (January 24, 2018):  Councillor Chris Fonseca raised all of these issues on behalf of MCAC.  Video link is posted -- Cllr. Fonseca begins her remarks at the 1:37:00 point of the January 24, 2018 combined GC+Council meeting video.  NOTE:  City Staff will report back to provide clarity including defined policies and inclusive graphics, at a future GC meeting (date TBA). 

FOLLOW-UP TO MCAC:  City Staff presented a Deputation regarding snow-clearing of cycling infrastructure at the public MCAC meeting on February 13, 2018 (AGENDA - 41p PDF).  NOTE:  The formal City Staff report will be provided at General Committee (date TBA), per above.

Winter Road Salting

Road salt is an issue for cyclists (bike corrosion), and increasingly an environmental concern for our waterways as well.  The City of Mississauga uses only road salt until more than 8cm of snow has fallen, at which point the snow is cleared (illustrated by graphic at left). 

This is problematic for both on-road cycling lanes and off-road Multi-Use Trails (MUTs), where salt does not perform as in regular traffic lanes due to lack of mixing.  A non-corrosive approach would be welcomed.  This is becoming a critical issue on the public agenda in many jurisdictions:

► TVO article (Jan. 17, 2018): Oversalted: Why Ontario needs a new approach to snow removal.

Mississauga News article (Jan. 30, 2018): Heavy chloride pollution from road salt in Mississauga creeks a concern for wildlife: CVC.

► CBC Radio article (Jan. 26, 2018): Beet juice and cheese brine: what cities are spreading on streets to replace corrosive road salt.

► CBC News Toronto (February 2, 2018): 'You can taste it': Road salt making GTA rivers, streams as salty as seawater.

International Winter Bike to Work Day

The 6th annual International Winter Bike to Work Day (website) took place on February 9, 2018.  MCAC did not conduct an organized WBTWD event this year.  But by our working towards predictable and adequate snow-clearing policies, cyclists in our city will be better able to bike all winter (for any reason), not just on this one special day.

Each year, Mississauga cyclists are encouraged to REGISTER their destination on the WBTWD website and then bike to work on the day in order to show the world that cycling in the winter is not only possible and comfortable, but is increasingly common, especially as cycling infrastructure and winter maintenance improves!

Get out there if you can this winter!  Tag your postings with #bikeMississauga (and #WBTWD if applicable)!


View the City of Mississauga's published Winter Maintenance Service Standards for roads and sidewalks as well as bus stops and pedestrian crossings, as illustrated by the graphic above; click image to enlarge.

NOTE: No clear City policies exist now for cycling infrastructure, but new minimum standards for snow-clearing are to go into effect in April 2018 and will include cycling infrastructure, and also address the issue of road salt in bike lanes.

Call 3-1-1 re any cycling infrastructure in need of snow-clearing.